Good Samaritan Education Staff Retreat
“I really only love God as much as I love the person I love least” Dorothy Day (1897-1980)
For the last six months I have been consumed by the ubiquitous work/life juggle we all hear so much about, as a new teacher and mother of three young children, I manage to come up with heartfelt excuses not to – pause, listen and respond with the ear of the heart, both at work and in my family. Dorothy Day a firebrand and founder of the Catholic Workers Movement in the US, teaches us that faith is a daily act, that it is often hard and yet deeply meaningful. I have often felt that teaching and parenting are both acts of faith. It was in this frame of mind that I began our three-day retreat.
I have been a member of staff at St Scholastica’s College, Glebe for a little under 4 years and from the first day I entered the school I knew it was unique, no bells, quite warm welcomes and genuine concern for each other, a true community. One that not only supports and nurtures learning in both the teachers and students but quietly inspires all to be responsible stewards of this unspoken community spirit. I was hooked and curious to know why and how in an age of the “individual” such a community could survive and indeed thrive. I entered the retreat with a desire to learn more, to truly and deeply understand what lies beneath the Benedictine quotes that appear on the corridor walls that frame my teaching day.
On the first day we were warmly welcomed by Sister Meg, Monica and the lovely Good Samaritan Sisters. In the surrounds of the beautiful Mount St Benedict Centre at Pennant Hills, we embarked on a journey of discovery, each of us bringing our own sense of spirituality, life experience and expectations.
With a perfect balance of teaching methods Sister Meg and Monica introduced or reintroduced us to the life and times of St Benedict and the Rule. The Rule itself became the philosophy that underpinned the 3 days and mirroring my experience at St Scholastica’s, here too the Rule was demonstrated, not through words but rather actions. We were all given, what felt like luxurious amounts of time to truly engage with the text ensuring we connected with it in a meaningful and practical way that could be translated into lived experience upon our return to our respective schools and families.
Personally I was drawn to chapter 72 of the Rule, “The Good Zeal of Monks”, my favourite quote “supporting with the greatest patience one another’s weaknesses of body and behaviour and earnestly competing in obedience to one another” (RB: Ch 72). While we might not always succeed I truly feel there is a genuine commitment to strive for this acceptance and support of one another within Good Samaritan Education schools. It is this that makes these institutions of learning unique, in a world of individualism, collectivism finds a home.
I left the retreat with a renewed sense of purpose and a deeper understanding of the community I have come to cherish. I am grateful to Sister Meg and Monica for the opportunity to stop, pause and reflect on my teaching practice and faith. The experience has made it possible for me to return to my community able to:
“arrange all things so that the strong have something to strive for
and the weak have nothing to run from” (RB: Ch. 64)
My favourite Rule as a teacher.
St Scholastica’s College, Glebe